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Estonia

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1) REFERENCES

Commission Opinion [COM(97)2006 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(98) 705 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(1999) 504 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2000) 704 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [SEC(2001) 1747 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2002) 700 final - Not published in the Official Journal]
Commission Report [COM(2003) 675 final - SEC(2003) 1201 - Not published in the Official Journal]
Treaty of Accession to the European Union [Official Journal L 236 of 23.09.2003]

2) SUMMARY

In its Opinion of July 1997, the European Commission considered that Estonia had made considerable progress in bringing its consumer protection law into line with the Community acquis and that Estonia seemed to have the necessary structures and bodies to implement consumer policy. Hence, medium-term conformity with Community policy in this area should not pose major problems. However, the Commission also recalled the need to continue with legislative reform, since the laws in force are by no means in compliance with Community acquis. It also ascertained the existence of certain exclusive or special rights that fall foul of Community law.
The November 1998 Report ascertained that legislative approximation was making good headway. However, it was necessary to reinforce the Consumer Protection Council and to promote the existing consumer organisations, which were very underdeveloped.
The October 1999 Report, however, emphasised that no legislative progress had been made in this field and that consumer organisations were still relatively underdeveloped.
In the October 2002 Report, the Commission noted that negotiations had been provisionally closed on this chapter and that Estonia had not requested any transitional arrangements.
The October 2003 Report notes that Estonia essentially complies with the Community acquis as regards both safety-related measures (e.g. market surveillance) and non-safety-related measures (e.g. consumer organisations). However, it must further improve market surveillance and complete the transposal and implementation of the revised Directive on general product safety.
The Treaty of Accession was signed on 16 April 2003 and accession took place on 1 May 2004.

COMMUNITY ACQUIS

The Community acquis covers the protection of consumers' economic interests (notably in the fields of misleading advertising, indication of prices, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, distance selling, package travel, and timeshares), general product safety, cosmetics safety, the labelling of textile products and toy safety.

The European Association Agreement provides for aligning the legislation with Community law and for cooperation measures to bring Estonian consumer protection law fully into line with the Community rules. The measures set out in the first phase of the White Paper on the Central and Eastern European Countries and the Internal Market (1995) focus on the improvement of product safety, notably in respect of cosmetics, textiles and toys, and on the protection of consumers' economic interests, mainly in the field of misleading advertising, consumer credit, unfair contract terms, and indication of prices. The second-phase measures concern package travel and timeshares. New, recently adopted Community legislation (distance selling, comparative advertising and indication of prices) must also be transposed.

EVALUATION

The situation in 2003 changed slightly compared with 2002.

Market surveillance (safety-related measures)
It is important to further market surveillance activities and strengthen the capacities of the main enforcement structures.
It is necessary to increase the number of inspectors engaged in market surveillance and to improve the capacity of the laboratories responsible for testing non-food products.

Consumer protection (non-safety-related measures)
The Consumer Protection Act needs to be brought into line with the acquis. The Consumer Protection Board is working very effectively, but should be strengthened in terms of both human and financial resources.

Efforts aimed at improving consumer information and education already in 2002 led to the establishing of a free telephone information service and the granting of financial support by the government to the Estonian Consumers' Union. Nevertheless, the role of consumer associations in promoting consumer interests must be consolidated, in order to enhance awareness in the fields of product safety and food safety.
Finally, efforts must be made to strengthen consumer organisations, which remain underdeveloped mainly because of the lack of active members.

This summary is for information only and is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document.

 
Last updated: 14.01.2004
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